Maria Montez was born Maria Africa Antonia Gracia Vidal de Santo Silas on June 6, 1912, in the Domican Republic. She grew up with nine siblings. When her father was appointed to the Spanish consulship the entire family moved to Northern Island. In 1932 Maria married William G. McFeeters, a wealthy banker, but the they divorced a few years later. She began modeling and her dark, exotic looks helped her get a screen test at Universal. Maria made her film debut in the 1940 drama The Invisible Woman. Two years later she got rave reviews for her performance in Arabian Nights. She went on to appear in a series of big budget adventure movies and was nicknamed "The Queen of Technicolor".
Maria became a popular star even though critics complained that she could not really act. She married French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont in 1943. The couple had a daughter named Maria Christina. By the end of the 1940s Maria was no longer in demand as an actress so she and Jean-Pierre decided to move to France. She continued to make movies in Europe and published three books. In 1951 Maria and Jean-Pierre costarred together in Revenge of the Pirates. Sadly this would be her final film. On September 7, 1951 Maria was found dead in her bathtub. She had suffered a heart attack and drowned at age thirty-nine. Maria is buried in the Cimetiere du Montparnasse in Paris, France. Her daughter Tina Aumont became a successful actress appearing in more than fifty films.